Tell Me What You Really Think

Sincerely Yours  Robin Helm

Sincerely Yours
Robin Helm

Meredith Esparza of Austenesque Reviews posted her thoughtful four-star review of Sincerely Yours yesterday. Her review was a good one, in that she presented her likes and dislikes in a very fair manner. It’s wonderful to me that she likes more than she dislikes about the book. Thank you, Meredith!

I don’t expect everyone to like everything about my books. In fact, I would be surprised if they did. I know that my books can be controversial. All of them have a religious component and a paranormal element. The Yours by Design series (Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours) features a time-switch between Regency Darcy and modern Darcy.

I was particularly interested in the comments. More people were concerned about the religious aspect than about the time switch. Accidentally Yours (the first book) is much more “Christian” than are the other two books (Sincerely Yours and Forever Yours) in the series. I established modern Will’s Christianity in the the first book, so I felt no need to beat it to death in the other two books. Modern Will’s grandmother was dying. Losing his last family member caused him to lean heavily upon his faith. He was in despair. People of faith respond to such gut-wrenching agony in one of two ways: they will either draw closer to God or they’ll turn from Him entirely. Will reacted in the first way – he sought God. When he switched places in time with Regency Darcy, Will was in a place where everything was unfamiliar to him. Again, he sought the comfort of the only thing in his life that was stable and real at that point – his faith.

It amuses me that so many readers prefer the jerk Darcy (who grows into a good guy) to the spiritual Darcy, but it shouldn’t. After all, I see that in real life on a daily basis.

I’m thinking of two high-profile men I know who have the same job. One is a criminal, though he has never been convicted of anything since charges against him are always dropped. He has raped, stolen, cheated, been obscene in public, and destroyed private property, but people idolize him because he gives them what they want. He has received national, prestigious awards. The other man is a Christian. He works hard, goes to church, does good works, stays humble, and pleases God rather than all men. Guess which one is more popular? Michel Jackson meme

I’m not at all upset by the controversy my books create. People are talking about them, and to me, that’s a good thing. At least I’m not being ignored.

I think I’ll make my next Darcy a Christian politician. Hand me that popcorn.

19 thoughts on “Tell Me What You Really Think

  1. Susan Kaye

    Preach it, Sister. “Good” as defined by any culture is tough to write. The spiritual is always filtered through reader’s perceptions. this is true of Christianity in this country or any other belief system that is dominant elsewhere. In Love suffers Long I set up Wentworth to be “good” and honorable in following plot possibility Austen wrote that he would marry Louisa if pressed because he had raised her expectations. So far his honorable act has been vilified in the face of poor Anne’s disappointment and bleak future. It will get worse.

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    1. Laura Hile

      Excellent point. In our day, personal happiness seems to trump almost everything.

      What readers forget is that Anne, who felt the break-up just as deeply, avoided Wentworth whenever she could. Laughing, joyous-talking Lousia was all smiles and admiration. Which companion would you choose?

      If Captain Wentworth showed up at my parents’ dinner table (looking so fine and in that wondrous uniform), I’d behave exactly like Louisa.

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      1. Robin Helm Post author

        Couple that with the idea that Louisa had no idea of a prior engagement between Anne and Frederick, and it’s almost a given.

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    2. Robin Helm Post author

      I actually agree with you that Wentworth, in real life, would have married Louisa had her father pressed the issue with him. After all, he plainly stated that if she wanted a marriage, he was in honor bound. His whole life, his service in the Navy, was about honor and integrity. Austen simply made him fortunate in that Louisa fell in love with Benwick. However, would that have truly happened? Benwick bonded with Anne over poetry. Louisa was not a literary genius.

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      1. Susan Kaye

        LSL is truly fiction at its finest. We (Kaye and Hile) manipulated the story in that Wentworth follows a realistic path of obligation. We left Benwick in the cold, able to pursue Anne. Which he does.

        It was interesting to see readers reject Wentworth’s actions as despicable and stupid because they hurt Anne and left her as vulnerable to her father’s folly as in the early part of Persuasion. Then, along comes James Benwick, a Delta male who is too piano for Adm Croft, and he is embraced as a better hero that Wentworth. (Yes, numbers of readers said it on DWG. Repeatedly.) Benwick became the unrealistic Romantic Hero (C) in that he came to know Anne so well that he ticked all her emotional boxes perfectly.

        Overall, it was fun to write, but also very interesting to watch the readers respond to the realism and the fantasy.

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          1. Susan Kaye

            I mind it less than I used to. At this stage of my life, I genuinely don’t care about the opinions of some (most) people. When LSL was posted before, the mission was different. This time around I’m more willing to say, “Is that so? Let me tell you why you’re wrong.” Maybe THAT is the branding scheme I should go with.πŸ˜‰

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            1. Robin Helm Post author

              I got over it when I finished The Guardian Trilogy and was criticized by some who thought it was too religious. I just write what I write now. If somebody wants to read it, that’s great, but I don’t write with an aim to be a best seller. That path leads to nowhere.

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  2. Laura Hile

    Congratulations on the review, Robin.

    Before I know it, you’ll be finished with this trilogy and off to something new. How you manage to write while holding down how many part-time jobs (three? four?) is a wonder to me.πŸ™‚

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    1. Robin Helm Post author

      Thanks, Laura! Currently, I have five part-time jobs. Only one of those goes all year long. The other four wax and wane according to the seasons.

      I hope to finish Forever Yours by Christmas at the very latest.

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  3. Gayle Mills

    A politician? Really? Oh, I know. He could be a liberal progressive in university and then realize the error of his ways as he matures. πŸ™‚ Or will he be a true moderate, working across the aisle?

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    1. Robin Helm Post author

      I like the first idea, but I can’t stomach a moderate. I can’t take lukewarm. However, I do see him working across the aisle for common sense solutions.

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  4. Susan Kaye

    I think also that people like to identify with those who are “improving.” The characters who grow, change, and become better tend to attract us rather than characters were think have it all together.

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    1. Robin Helm Post author

      I agree, but Will didn’t have it all together in Accidentally Yours. He was an emotional mess. His grandmother died, and she was his lifeline. He wasn’t living. He was going through the motions. That’s why he prayed the prayer that switched him with Regency Darcy.

      To me, they both changed for the better. Will illustrated that an already good man becomes better with the support of a good woman.

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      1. Susan Kaye

        Some changes are too subtle to see and embrace in a fictional character. I don’t mean to highjack your thread, but in LSL, a lot of people just do not want to see Wentworth doing the right thing and marrying Louisa. It’s him and Anne forever. Many readers feel that I am ruining their fun by having a moral lesson and they don’t like it. I think the joy of fiction is that you see how life really is and that there is joy everywhere (mostly).

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  5. Sophia Rose

    I guess I should have read the comments and not just the review, Robin. I missed all that. πŸ˜‰

    I really don’t mind a strong Christian theme in a story and I don’t see why people should freak b/c I’m pretty sure you haven’t tried to hide the fact that its going to be there in your books. Honestly, the only time I’ve ever had trouble with an inspirational emphasis in a romance is when it tries to be something more than what it is. If its a story, then the story should move forward at a good pace and develop, but it shouldn’t stall out and leave the story behind so the author can ‘preach’. I’m not just talking about religious themes. I’ve read lots of political agenda, usually liberal, ‘preached’ too in romance. Romance fiction isn’t the vehicle for this IMHO. Now while I pick it up b/c I want some fun and escape, I don’t mind that might have themes that educate or challenge for change, but in the end its chosen b/c I want a story and in particular a romance.

    As to your good guy Darcy, he’s like the beta hero compared to the alpha hero. Not as popular and usually discounted, but a genuine hero nonetheless. I love this one Georgette Heyer, Cotillion, for its beta hero. The hero, Freddie, is just an ordinary looking, normal, nice guy and he’s up against the handsome, bad boy cousin and another rich cousin for the girl. He is constant and his moral compass is strong and it was great that his quiet approach is rewarded. I’m also a huge fan of Fanny Price and Elinor Dashwood because they have strong moral compasses too and end up with the best future outlook of all the other gals. It’s funny that people want to play with danger and bad boys in their fictional stories, but most would trust the good guys for long term, stable happiness.

    Anyhoos, congrats on your latest book and based on the review I’m eager to try your series. Time Travel isn’t a niche I’ve read much of in truth, but I like Sci-Fi and PNR so I’m pretty sure I’d like that too. I confess that I haven’t read your books yet and I need to remedy that. I really don’t have an excuse b/c I have one of your angel Darcy books on the shelf. I’ve sadly slacked off on my Austenesque reads this year. *hangs head* Guess I could make it a New Year’s goal. πŸ˜‰

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    1. Robin Helm Post author

      The books aren’t truly time travel, because the men don’t keep traveling. They make a one-time, permanent switch. I guess time switch is a more apt label.

      I totally agree with you about Elinor and Fanny. Both women have strong moral compasses which point to the better men. Edward immediately recognizes in Elinor the woman he should actually marry, but he had already made a very foolish alliance. Fortunately, Lucy is as shallow as she is clever. Edmund goes for the glossy Mary Crawford, a woman of little morality, and has to suffer before he realizes that Fanny is a jewel. I have always wondered if Fanny didn’t deserve a better man than Edmund.

      In my story, the Christianity is the difference between the two men. Will has been reared by his grandmother to have a Christian perspective, and he wants that same set of values in the woman he marries. Fitzwilliam has never been exposed to a true Christian philosophy because of the circumstances of his birth. He recognizes that Elizabeth is a superior woman, but he doesn’t know why. I never state either of these ideas in the books. I leave the reader to connect the dots. Will does not seek to evangelize those around him.

      Only the first few chapters of Accidentally Yours have a strong Christian emphasis. After that, since I have established Will’s beliefs, I simply have him live out his religion. Fitzwilliam is surrounded by Christians when he switches with Will, but nobody “preaches” to him. He changes because of his environment and the people around him more than anything else. Very few people had ever disagreed with him in the Regency period, and he had always been pursued for his money and position. His life in our era is very different, and it affects him deeply.

      My books are clearly labeled as “Christian fantasy fiction.” I really don’t know why people buy them and then give me 1 star reviews because they are Christian.

      I was especially amused that it was easier for some of the people who commented to accept a time switch (made possible by God) than for them to accept a good man. Do they not know any good men?

      Thanks for your thoughtful post.

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      1. Sophia Rose

        Hey, thanks for the extra insight into your Darcys, Robin, along with the time swap. That actually has more appeal for me so I’ll focus on the characters and not wonder about all the time travel stuff. So its more like Freaky Friday. haha!

        I regularly review books so I see other reviews when I’m posting my own and it always ticks me off when the review gets a poorer rating b/c of something silly or ignorance on the part of the reviewer or something that it pretty much out of the author’s control. I do believe that most people who bother to read reviews can see through that stuff. I know I do so hopefully it won’t affect your sales much.

        Not sure when I’ll get to Darcy the time swapper, but I will definitely be reading it. Thanks for your additional thoughts, Robin.

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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